Farmworkers harvesting lettuce

Farmworkers harvest lettuce near Gonzales. 

On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown extended overtime pay for farmworkers throughout California, and the historic reform will likely jolt the Salad Bowl of the World—for better or for worse.

The bill will require employers to pay overtime to workers who work more than eight hours a day or more than 40 hours a week. The implementation of the new law will be phased out in four years, starting in 2018, except for employers with 25 or fewer employees. They will be given two more years to transition into the change.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez commended Brown for “ensuring overtime protections for California workers on farms and in our homes—some of our most vulnerable workers.”

Locally, the bill is lauded by farmworkers and criticized by farmers. When it was under consideration, local farmers said they would not be able to afford overtime pay on top on an increased minimum wage and healthcare costs. They also said a solution will likely be to give workers less hours.

Meanwhile, farmworkers are excited about the prospect of more money and doubt their hours will be cut due to the lack of available workers.

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